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Driver Interview

#52 Shawn Tucker

We thought fans would enjoy learning a little more about the Parts For Trucks Pro Stock Tour drivers and teams. We sat down with 2010 Champion Shawn Tucker to talk about his racing career, his team and what racing is like for them.

Look for other chats with drivers throughout the year. We hope you enjoy these talks as much as we did doing them.

MPST: Congratulations on winning the 2010 MPST championship and becoming a three-time champion. How does this championship compare to the others?

Tucker: Itís actually no different. Obviously itís nice to win the championship, but we didnít have any wins this year and that was sort of a bummer on our part. We wanted to have a few wins, but I guess consistency brought us the championship.

MPST: Youíve said before that your interest in stock car racing started with your dad. Would you tell us how your interest started and grew?

Well, Iíve always been around racing, as my dad did it for years. Weíve always been around racecars, but as a young kid I never worked on them much. But I was around them a lot. My dad raced right up to, I think it was 1987. He got sick, so the car got sort of shoved outside the shop and was forgotten about. Then when my brother and I were old enough to figure stuff out on our own, we just drug the car into the shop, put it together and one day we just went in and told my dad that we got the car ready to race and letís go race. We decided to go to Bangor and once we got Momís blessing we were fine. It was a little hard to get hers, but once we got started we havenít stopped since.

Started racing in Bangor in 1989 for four or five races and then from 1990 to 92 or 93 fulltime. In 1994 we came to Fredericton. Going to Bangor for us wasnít actually bad. It was a three-hour tow, no different than going to Halifax. It wasnít bad. I donít know why we went in that direction. Maybe dad wanted us to break ourselves in so no one else saw us, I guess. Actually, we were pretty good out of the box. For rookies we werenít too bad.

MPST: During the early days when your dad was racing, what local racers did you cheer for? Other than your dad of course!

Tucker: I cheered for Paul Herbert. My dad drove a Dodge and he drove a Dodge. I enjoyed watching him. He was a lower buck fellow that did very well. Other than my dad, I cheered for Paul Hebert.

MPST: What tracks did you visit when your dad was racing?

Tucker: River Glade, Antigonish, Onslow Speedway and Hammond River in Saint John. I guess I went to Brookside (outside of Fredericton), but I donít recall that. Mom took me to Brookside, but I donít remember that at all.

MPST: You started driving in a late model and never raced anything else?

Tucker: Yes I did. Iíve never been in the seat of anything else. We had the car, so thatís the way it worked out. The first time I went with it, we had a local engine builder build us a smaller cubic inch engine just for me to get use to things. With the smaller engine we actually won the fourth time out with it.

My dad didnít show us everything; he wanted us to learn on our own. I think that helped us in the long run. We go to the track and weíd be out to lunch. Weíd just try anything to make it right and we kept good notes back then as well, as we do today. Itís worked out good.

MPST: To be successful on the MPST you need support from your family. Who is your family and how do they help?

Tucker: My wife Sherry, daughter Ashley and my son Dustin. I was racing before I met my wife, so she knew what she was getting into and she backs us 100%. She understands that we are gone most weekends and she probably attends 80% of the races. The other 20% my daughter has sports events and she takes her. My son has been around the team for the last two years and heís at the shop every day and night in the summertime. So it works out good for me.

MPST: Racing is a big team sport, although the driver gets all the glory. Who helps you crew-wise on the car?

Tucker: Youíre right on that, the crew doesnít get enough credit for sure. From the start Iíve had my brother Darcy and I have another friend of mine, Steve Fairly, who is still with me today. When you have a friend and brother who donít miss a race in 20 plus years, thatís commitment as far as Iím concerned. My uncle Perry, although he hasnít been with us the last couple of years, was very instrumental for about ten years. He helped out a lot. My son Dustin works on the car and at the shop. My biggest help to me was my dad. He still has the ... he hates to loose (said while laughing). Then I had a friend, turned sponsor, turned crew guy and thatís Richard MacArthur. Heís there all the time. Without these people I wouldnít be doing this, thatís for sure. Thereís another fellow here locally Alfred Wilkens, his brother actually races a sportsman, and heís been with me about 12 years. He always gets asked the question why he doesnít help his brother and he says that he started working with me first and he wouldnít quit. Heís been helping for 12 years, which shows his commitment.

Iíve had friends come and go, mostly because it was too much work, but I understand that 100 %. There are ups and downs in this sport and it makes you stronger. These guys donít get upset about stuff, they understand that we want to win and theyíve stuck with me.

MPST: Whatís a typical week like in the shop for the Tucker team? A week without major damage or an engine that let go.

Tucker: As far as the whole crew on a typical week, itís one night a week to work on the car, which is normally on Tuesday nights. My son and I usually do three or four nights, just to do clean up and things like that. The one night with the full crew, we do a full nut and bolt check. Obviously you have to go from track to track, so we have to change shocks and springs and scale the car. We try to do that all in an evening. My son and I get everything else done up. Make sure the pit cart is right, get things loaded up and let the other guys have the rest of the week off.

If we have a bad week now, they are there every night. It just depends on how it goes, but on a typical week just one night a week the whole crew is there. Dustin does a lot during the day. I may be working on a customerís car, but heís working on our car. He does a lot that way. It takes a lot of the load off the other guys.

MPST: Sponsors are another essential part of the team. Who backs Shawn Tucker?

Tucker: The first one is A.L. Gullison Disaster Kleenup, a local company here in Fredericton, which has been with us for four years and is back in 2011, which is a big plus. Richard MacArthur with Rockico Truck and Trailer has been with me for 10 or 11 years. Peterbilt Atlantic dealers and new this past year was Bremner Farms. They all help out, thatís for sure. Almost forgot my own company, Tucker Racing Products. They do a lot too.

MPST: Whatís a typical race day for the # 52 team, from the time you get up until you get back home after the race?

Tucker: Well, normally we have everything loaded the night before obviously. Weíve been doing this the last two years this way. We usually leave home around 5:30 am and make our trek to wherever weíre going that week, to get there just in time for the gate to open in the morning. Go through our race day and drive straight home. We usually get home about 4 or 5 in the morning, so itís a 24-hour day for us. Obviously it wipes out your Sunday, but itís nice to get back home and I think it makes it easier for everybody that way. At the bigger races weíll stay overnight, but most weeks we drive home that night.

MPST: What motivates you to still be a driver on the MPST?

Tucker: Iíve just got that competitive edge I guess. Since I was a kid, just playing hockey, baseball or anything like that, I was competitive. I enjoy it. I like the camaraderie around the racetrack and to meet new people. As far as out on the racetrack, Iíve just got that drive to win. I donít know what it is, but I have that drive and I havenít lost it yet. Iíve got 20 plus years in now and still enjoy it.

MPST: Whatís the best thing about racing MPST for you?

Tucker: The competitiveness of it. Thatís what I like about it. You can go to other tours, and Iím not calling them down, but there are always one or two guys that are always in front. On our tour thereís 10 to 15 guys that can win each and every night. I like that and the aspect of keeping the cost down a little bit. The way our rules are, I think that others should look at that. Our rule package, the car count and the competitiveness of the tour, thatís what I like about it.

MPST: When you were breaking into racing, was there a driver or team who offered advice in the early years?

Tucker: Iíll never forget the first time I went to Antigonish. I was there before to watch my dad, but this was my first time in the car there. I came from Fredericton and was like a one-track guy and going to Antigonish was a new extreme to me. When I got there, I drove around the racetrack a few times and kept on dragging, dragging on the racetrack. I finally drug a hole in the oil pan. So we came in and thought we were done. Frank Fraser came over and offered help as far as what I should put in for springs. Once we changed springs and fixed the oil pan, it was just a different day. We had a good day. I didnít have near enough spring in the car to hold it off the racetrack. That sticks out in my mind, what Frank helped me with that day.

MPST: Given the current day and your time on the tour, who do admire and why?

Tucker: As far as teams go, I admire them all.

The people I admire the most are Cecil Vance and Harry Poole for their dedication to the sport. I think it is amazing.

As far as the other drivers, I like all the drivers on the tour.

MPST: When you were starting out as a touring racer, which racetrack did you have the most difficulty adapting to?

Tucker: Halifax, no hesitation at all. I could loose my brakes within 10 laps at Halifax every time I went there. I struggled so hard there. Once I figured you couldnít overdrive the corners, it started to come around pretty quickly,

All our tracks are very different, but I like them all now actually. I still struggle with PEI a little bit. As far is Halifax is concerned, I just hated to go there. But it was one of those things that I was going to go there a lot, so I had to figure it out.

MPST: What does Shawn Tucker do in the off-season, besides work on the racecar?

Tucker: I like to snowmobile. Iím totally dedicated to my kidsí sports in the winter. I do more traveling with the kidsí sports than I do in the summer with racing. My time is all around my family. I can tell you one thing, my kids like my wife to take them to their sports, thatís for sure, because I drive the speed limit. My wife speeds! When I drive on the road I drive like Ė everyone calls it ďa Sunday afternoon driverĒ.

MPST: Whatís your best racing memory?

Tucker: I have to say winning the 2004 Peterbilt 250 in Fredericton, in front of the hometown fans.